Monday, May 26, 2008

There are two problems which eternally belong to summertime.

Sunburn? No. Too many bugs? No. Heat? No.

First, practicing and advancing without a teacher. As, I think, many people do, I have trouble practicing specific things, rather than whatever catches my fancy that day, when I don't have a specific event (lesson, audition, concert, etc), and so I don't end up getting much done during the summer. I tend to start many things, and not work up any until the last few weeks, when I have to get ready for my audition or what have you. This summer, though, I am making a plan. I'm going to work on remedying my rather spotty knowledge of Fehrling, and go through the etudes two by two, and also work on Le Api, which has been neglected pretty much all year on account of auditions and the recital. I'm also going to pick a solo, possibly the Vaughan Williams Concerto, which I love.

Second, surviving months without orchestra rehearsals without insanity. I don't really have a solution for this, other than going to lots of concerts and listening to classical music a lot. I noticed this year in particular that I'm really liking every piece of classical music I listen to. That said, this year will be even worse than usual, because my classes don't start until the end of September, rather than at the end of August.

Speaking of UC, I went with my mother to Cincinnati this weekend to find an apartment, and found a lovely and affordable one. (Pictures here of the apartment with someone else's furnishings, and of the Music Hall.) While there, I managed to get free tickets to two May Festival concerts. One was Faure's Requiem and Vivaldi's Gloria, the other Berlioz' Romeo et Juliette. While they were suffering from the problem, as many festivals do, of too few rehearsals with the soloists, both concerts, and especially the Berlioz, were very good. The hall was huge - it apparently sits around 3500, and as the home of the Cincinnati Symphony I find myself wondering approximately what portion of seats they typically sell - and the choir correspondingly vast, with about 225 singers. It was a bit overkill for the Faure, though they had a smaller choir for the Vivaldi, but for the ending of the Berlioz it was spectacular.

I've been reading Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks, which is pretty interesting, though slightly frightening. The conclusion of each section, dealing with things ranging from synaesthesia to musical hallucinations to the sudden acquisition of tone deafness, can be summarized as "well, we know what causes this, but not how to prevent it or fix it." A few interesting facts, though: According to one study, 1 in 23 people is synaesthetic. The number of people with absolute pitch is wildly higher in countries, such as China, whose languages are tonal.

Ah, yes, graduation. Having had a little over a week to get used to it, it isn't quite so strange to have graduated college, but it is still a little bit bizarre. For instance, late last week I was unsubscribed from the music major mailing list. And of course the fact remains that when I go back to school in the fall it will be in another state for another degree. Though the day before graduation and the day after were perfectly lovely, it rained the day of and was about 5 degrees too chilly to be entirely comfortable at the morning ceremony. However, my department ceremony was inside, in our hall, so it didn't affect me too much. After the chaos of the morning, backstage with only 25 music majors and 12 professors was lovely and well-organized, and the ceremony quite short.

You may remember that my recital was a "distinguished major project," for which I would graduate with no distinction, distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction. My English major roommate had been assured that she would know what she'd received before graduation, but knowing my department's track record, I was skeptical that I would. Sure enough, the professors were wandering around before the ceremony looking smug, and I didn't find out until I was standing on stage. I was well and truly shocked (my mouth literally dropped open) to find out that I received highest distinction. Although I was quite pleased after my recital (admittedly a little less so after listening to my recording), I was really surprised. Also, the benefit of a small department, I was one of several to receive an award that came with a $250 check.
I believe I've written in here before about "departmental recognitions", for which you are nominated by a professor. Usually they give them out in the fall and winter, but obviously graduating fourth-years won't be around come next October, so they gave ours at graduation. I've gotten them before, once for course work and once for my third year recital, but I have to say that this one meant the most for me. I got one for my term paper for theory, and then one for my two big English horn solos in orchestra, in the Ravel Piano Concerto and in Symphonie Fantastique. Obviously as someone who aspires to be an orchestral musician, it meant so much for me to get a recognition for my orchestral playing.

After the ceremony, they had a lovely reception and I got to say my good-byes to my professors, with many promises, which I firmly intend to keep, to keep in touch. And then it was back to my apartment for a joint family party, exhaustion, and melancholy. It's a very strange thing, graduating college, because the way in which you grow up during college is so different from the way you do in high school, and also because college is so very strongly tied to a specific place. I love this campus, and the buildings and the hall, etc, and it is strange and sad to think that I will not be playing in our hall again. That said, while it will be sort of hard at the end of the summer, I've gotten over my maudlin for now, and the lasting emotion, I think, is accomplishment. Which really is as it should be, now that I've gotten my last statements of "ooh, look what I got" out.

If you're interested, I have a few pictures from my recital and from graduation (you can see my long-suffering roommates, unless they mind) here.


C.J. said...

I don't know if you have to make a ton of money working a summer job, but have you thought about working a summer job at Interlochen? It's a great summer job. You usually work an 8 hour job, and you're surrounded by all these people committed to playing and practicing. There's a lot of "staff performances" that you can play on, including a staff wind ensemble and orchestra. They also pay you a minimum salary, enough for beer and pizza on the weekends basically.

Anyways, just a thought for someone looking to get some major practicing done and still be in a performance setting. I worked as a lifeguard one summer (I received my certification there) and had a great time sitting out on the lake 8 hours a day, and practicing and playing during the night.

racheloboes said...


This summer I decided not to apply to camps either as a job or to attend (I was swayed by things like a trip to England), though I have in the past worked at EUSMC. I've never merely attended a long summer camp, though I have done a week-long chamber music camp, and Mack camp.

The Interlochen job sounds like a great opportunity! I'll definitely keep that one in mind for future summers.